Evan Smith
Evan Smith

A Jackson Township man must spend at least three decades in state prison — and perhaps far longer — for convincing two girls to submit to sex acts with him for nearly four years by claiming ghosts would hurt their family if they refused his advances.

Evan David Smith, 41, was sentenced Tuesday to a total of 30 to 60 years in state prison.

Smith informed presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn that he intends to appeal his conviction, "due to my sexuality and everything."

Deputy prosecutor Stephen McDonald said Smith, though married, claims he is gay. Apparently Smith maintains that if he is gay, he could not have molested girls, the prosecutor said.

Violent predator: Smith was determined to be a sexually violent predator, based on a Megan's Law evaluation by the state sexual offender board.

That means after he is released from prison Smith must register as a violent predator for the rest of his life, and also attend counseling, according to McDonald.

"I'm just glad for ... the victims that the process has finally run its course," the prosecutor said.

A jury on Nov. 7 took about two hours to find Smith guilty of two counts each of rape by forcible compulsion, child rape and corruption of minors; four counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault; and six counts of indecent assault.

The sexual assaults began in 2006 or 2007 and stopped around 2010, according to McDonald.

When the abuse started, the girls were about 11 and 12 years old, he said.

The crimes: Smith would leave messages for the girls to find — purportedly from ghosts — including "die virgins," and even scratched the word "die" into his own chest to scare the girls, according to McDonald.

"I called it emotional blackmail during my closing argument," he said. "He used the trust and the position he had ... to convince them they were in danger, their mother was in danger (and their whole family) was in danger."

Smith forced the girls into intercourse, oral sex and anal sex, and made them dress up in boots, a leather skirt and crotchless panties, according to court documents.

Bible readings: Those documents also state he did Bible readings with the girls when they were in his care.

"I think the one thing the jury 'got,' which I was very pleased about, is that as ridiculous as the whole ghost aspect is, this is why children need special protection -- because they are so vulnerable," McDonald has said. "They're impressionable and they're willing to trust people who are supposed to be taking care of them. That's the really sad aspect of this, that people would betray that trust for this kind of depraved (gratification)."

Girls told mom: The girls eventually confided to their mother in 2011 because they learned Smith was being released from prison and were afraid they would have to be around him again, McDonald said.

Smith had been locked up for failing to pay child support, the prosecutor said.

Smith also has an active criminal case in which he's charged with disseminating child pornography and corruption of minors.

McDonald said Smith allegedly showed pornography to two boys.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.